Hartford Seminary Artwork Displayed in JCC ‘Welcoming the Stranger’ Gallery Show

Tasked with creating an original piece of art with the theme “Under One Roof: Welcoming the Stranger,” students Megan Strouse and Amber Hai looked to Hartford Seminary’s core values for inspiration.

“In this project,” the two wrote in their artists’ statement, “we wanted to depict the three Abrahamic faiths traditions to represent the mission of Hartford Seminary, which is to cultivate healthy communities and conversation while exploring differences and deepening faith.”

The result was a stunning display of three books of faith on a canvas wrapped with newspaper articles depicting recent stories of both devastation and hope. Interspersed on the canvas are shards of mirror that pull viewers into the canvas itself, making them part of the art.

The project was part of a collaborative art exhibit organized by the Mandell Jewish Community Center in West Hartford. The JCC asked 45 Hartford area organizations to contribute a canvas showing a unique perspective on the theme of “Welcoming the Stranger” and invited the public to view the results. A reception for artists and organizations was held on Thursday, Oct. 10.

Amber and Megan had about a month to create their project under the guidance of Kaaren Van Dyke, Director of Philanthropy. They also involved Deena Grant, Associate Professor of Jewish Studies, in writing the Hebrew for the Torah part of the display.

As they wrote in their statement: “Scripture is a human activity; similar to a work of art, a person interacts with it and will come away with their own interpretations based on previous experiences and relationships with spiritual communities and with God-self.

“What you see as the focal point of this piece are verses from the Torah, the Bible, and the Qur’an which describe what welcoming the stranger and true hospitality should look like for people of faith. Even though these messages are thousands of years old, they remain relevant and very applicable, particularly with everything going on in the world today.

“We intentionally placed the Scriptures on top of breaking news from newspaper clippings from the past few weeks; in seeing these messages side by side, one can witness where acts of kindness have been practiced, as well as where many persons have been forgotten or neglected.”

“Under One Roof: Welcoming the Stranger” will be displayed in the gallery at the JCC until Nov. 15, 2019. Admission is free.

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